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New Los Angeles Essential Business Order

On April 10, 2020, Los Angeles County released an updated “Safer At Home Order” due to the continued spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Order will continue in effect until May 15. It applies to all unincorporated areas and cities within the County of Los Angeles, except Long Beach and Pasadena.

Changing Definition of Essential Businesses

As with previous orders, the current Order directs all businesses to cease in-person operations and remain closed to the public unless they meet the definition of an essential business. The new Order contains an updated definition of what constitutes an essential business. Among the changes:

  1. Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, convenience stores, and similar entities remain essential. But, the definition now excludes “businesses that sell only prepackaged non-potentially hazardous food which is incidental to the primary retail business.”

  2. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with support or supplies needed to operate remain essential, as do non-manufacturing, transportation, or distribution businesses that ship directly to residences, essential businesses, healthcare operations, or essential infrastructure. These businesses, however, may no longer use these exceptions as a basis to engage in direct sales to the general public from retail storefronts.

  3. Real estate appointments, such as viewings of residential properties, must be done virtually. If virtual viewings are not feasible, appointments must be done with no more than two visitors at a time, and with only one individual showing the unit.

  4. Manufacturers and retailers of fabric or cloth that is made into personal protective equipment are now essential businesses. These businesses may provide their products by delivery or pick-up but may not open to the public.

New Social Distancing Protocol

No later than 11:59 pm April 15, the Order requires essential businesses that remain in operation to implement social distancing protocols, which include:

  1. Limiting the number of people who may enter into the facility at any one time in order to maintain proper social distancing;

  2. Where lines form, marking six-foot increments (e.g., with tape) to establish where individuals should stand to maintain proper social distancing;

  3. Providing hand sanitizer, soap and water, or effective disinfectant at or near the entrance of the facility and in other appropriate areas for use by the public and employees, and in locations where there is high-frequency employee interaction with members of the public;

  4. Posting a sign in a conspicuous place at all public entries instructing people not to enter if they are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, and to maintain social distancing;

  5. Providing for the regular disinfection of high-touch surfaces, and disinfection of all payment portals, pens, and styluses after each use;

  6. Providing face cloth face coverings to employees and contracted workers whose duties require close contact (within six feet for ten minutes or more) with other employees and/or the public.

  7. Requiring people who enter the facility to wear a face covering during their time in the facility; and

  8. Adhering to communicable disease control recommendations provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

All essential businesses remaining in operation must comply with these protocols, including the requirement that they provide their employees and contracted workers with cloth face coverings.

The Order provides a template for essential businesses to use. It requires each protocol be posted at the entrance and be easily viewable by the public and employees. Copies of the protocol must be provided to each employee performing work at the facility, and essential businesses must be able to demonstrate compliance if asked by local authorities.

Other Orders May Impose More Stringent Requirements

Cities located within Los Angeles County have issued their own public health orders, which may be more restrictive. The County’s Order makes clear that it does not supersede such local orders, so entities should pay close attention to guidance issued by each level of government. Violation of the County’s order is a misdemeanor, punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.

For more information and updates on the developing COVID-19 situation, visit GT’s Health Emergency Preparedness Task Force: Coronavirus Disease 2019.